§ 30. Mr. FELL
asked the Minister of Munitions why the Government withdrew from the arrangement made with the Barnsley Company to put up a plant to work the new process of carbonising coal at low temperature for the production of materials for explosives and dyes; if the Government had paid £10,000 and had proposed to pay a further £15,000 against similar sums paid by the Barnsley Company; if the failure of the Government to carry out the arrangement has delayed this important plant which is urgently needed and from which so much was expected; and if the soft coke resulting from the low combustion process is more valuable as a fuel than the hard coke although not so suitable for smelting purposes?
§ Dr. ADDISON
The Government has not withdrawn from any agreement with the Barnisley Smokeless Fuel Company. The Government took £10,000 in debentures in the company, but has not been disposed to assist further in view of the slow progress made in the erection of the plant by the company and because it now appears doubtful whether the process will prove of much service in the production of munitions. There has been no failure of the Government to carry out its obligations; the failure has been on the part of 2037 the company. I have no information of the value of the coke resulting from the low combustion process, except that it is of small value for smelting purposes, and therefore of little importance in the production of munitions.
§ Mr. FELL
The question does not mention the word agreement. Is it not a fact that an arrangement was come to that the persons putting up this factory should put it up pound by pound with the Government, the Government advanced their,£10,000 and the people advanced their £10,000, and there was £15,000 further to be advanced by each, and the Government then withdrew?
§ Dr. ADDISON
I do not know where the vested interests are at all. All I know is that we are advised that this does not seem likely to be a success.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
How much Government money was expended before you came to the conclusion that it was a failure?